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Analyzing Mexico and Puerto Rican Boxing RivalriesTerm Paper

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Mexico and Puerto Rican Boxing Rivalries

Boxing as a Sport

In a comprehensive ESPN ranking of as many as 60 different sports played across the world, boxing ranked in the list as the most difficult of all (ESPN.com). The sport, boxing, involves sparring with one's fists; it is also known by other names, like prizefighting (or fighting for a prize, mostly money) and pugilism (which literally means fist-fighting). Ever since the year 1904, boxing has featured as one of the games in the Olympics. For many centuries, mankind resorted to fist-fighting as a means of dispute resolution, before the idea was conceived into organizing these sorts of fights into entertainment for audiences (Fight Club America).

Boxing in Mexico

Innumerable professional and amateur boxing champions are of Mexican origin. Indeed, the nation has produced the maximum number of world boxing championship titleholders. As many as fourteen boxers from Mexico are included in the "International Boxing Hall of Fame," one of whom is the famous Julio Cesar Chavez, considered by many as one among the best of boxers in boxing history. Therefore, it isn't a surprising thing that today, boxing as a sport, has gained immense popularity all over the country (Mercer).

In Mexico, boxing occupies the status of its second-most widely played version, the first being soccer. This gloved game's significance in Mexico can't be calculated with regard to ratings. The practice of boxing stirs up something that is similar to existential importance in Mexico, with illustrious Mexican fighters shining as examples of strength, resilience, and hope to countrymen residing in the U.S. as well as Mexico (Marino, The Mexican Boxing Tradition).

The citizens of America usually complain of a lacking feeling of history among their athletes. This, however, is not the case among boxers from Mexico. Marquez, a boxing veteran, aged 40, with a twenty-year-long illustrious career, is a distinguished personality in Mexican boxing's rich lineage. He claims in an interview that together with his brother, Rafael, they followed in their father's footsteps to become professional boxers, leading to the institution of their gym, "Romanza Gym" in Mexico City, where he trained to become a fighter. It was here that, under the guidance of great fighters and teachers like Humberto 'Chiquita' Gonzalez, Ricardo Lopez, and Daniel Zaragoza, they trained. All these great personalities had atleast something to offer learners (Marino, The Mexican Boxing Tradition).

Around two-hundred world champions in boxing have either come from the country of Mexico, or have a Mexican lineage. Great personalities in the field of pugilism include Mexicans Salvador Sanchez, Ruben Olivares, Carlos Zarate, and Ricardo Lopez (Marino, The Mexican Boxing Tradition). In a recent break in preparations for his bout with Bradley (30-0, 12 knockouts (KOs)), Marquez (55-6-1, 40 KOs), voicing thoughts in line with those of Oscar De La Hoya, the former boxer of Mexican-American origin, stated that Mexican fans expect their countrymen to give their all in the game. Thus, for Mexican boxers, surrendering is out of question (Marino, The Mexican Boxing Tradition).

In Mexico, boxing as an amateur sport dates back to about 1918. Amateur boxing was first witnessed in Gulf of Mexico port cities (e.g., Tampico), where seafarers would erect temporary boxing rings, which were marked by 4 chairs, at local bordellos where they spent a majority of their on-shore time. In these initial matches, napkins were used as competitor gloves, and they would pass hats around for spectators to drop in drinking money. Following a series of accidents in these boxing matches, the country's earliest boxing commission was instituted in the year 1921 in Tampico, with an aim to add a certain degree of regulation to this dangerous sport (Mercer).

The personality recognized as Mexico's first professional boxer is Miguel Angel Febles (known by several names such as Mike Febles or Lion of Veracruz (i.e., "Leon Veracruzano"). Leon Veracruzano, also famous for his jujutsu skills, trained in a Cuban boxing academy instituted by John Budinich (the very first professional boxing personality of Chilean origin). In the year 1915, the former returned to his homeland and continued his boxing career. In the year 1932, during Los Angeles' summer Olympics, Francisco Cabanas Pardo became the first boxer from Mexico to win a medal (Mercer).

A constant rivalry has been observed for decades, between boxers from Puerto Rico and Mexico. This rivalry purportedly began in the year 1981, when Wilfredo Gomez, the boxing celebrity and junior featherweight titleholder from Puerto Rico, declared before a fight that he would stand or die, but would never go down on his knees. This famous event, which occurred in Las Vegas' Caesars Palace, received considerable publicity as the little giants' battle. Ironically, the fighter (Gomez) ended up bleeding and kneeling during the 8th round, following his technical knockout by Salvador Sanchez - a lesser-known world Featherweight WBC (World Boxing Council) champion from Mexico (Mercer).

Boxing in Puerto Rico

Right from the 1930s, every decade has witnessed at least one Puerto Rican top boxing champion. In the 60s, Carlos Ortiz ranked as a leading lightweight champion, and during the late 70s, Wilfredo Gomez became one among the greatest pound-for-pound fighter in boxing history (Seekins).

Avid fans of boxing will and can competently argue for hours over who may be considered the world's best pound-for-pound boxer. But the same cannot be said when it comes to deciding which nations rank superior over all others in boxing pound-for-pound. Unquestionably, Puerto Rico bags that spot (Rosenthal).

Caribbean islands -- formally part of American territory but home to proud and distinct individuals -- though having a rather modest population compared to the mainland (only about 4 million), has produced boxing champions at an immensely high rate. For instance, currently, Puerto Rico boasts of seven ring-rated boxers, which is one individual per approximately 570,000 individuals -- which is the lowest ratio of all countries. By contrast, another nation with an equal craze for boxing -- Mexico -- has as many as seventeen rated boxers (i.e., one boxer per 6.5 million individuals) (Rosenthal).

Also, Puerto Rico has a long history with the sport. In the last nearly eight decades, 49 Puerto Ricans (including 6 at present) have been awarded major boxing titles. It is considered third on a ranking of all nations, after the U.S. and its greatest rival, Mexico (Rosenthal).

Martino claims that ever since the cockfighting era, Puerto Ricans have been a sports-minded community. The sport of cockfighting continues to be legal in the nation. At one time, it was the most important Puerto Rican sport. Later, when Sixto Escobar and Pedro Montanez came into view during the 30s, boxing took over this cockfighting mania in a way that changed Puerto Ricans' sporting interests forever. The nation was lacking great personalities in the athletics, baseball or tennis arenas, in those days. In fact, it lacked outstanding international sports figures (from all sports) until the aforementioned two boxers. According to Martino, the two contributed to the nation's success in various sports. Nevertheless, Puerto Rico's dominance in the pound-for-pound arena wasn't cemented until the days of Carlos Ortiz (during the latter part of the 50s). Ortiz was followed in the next decade by Torres, and starting from the 1970s, the country witnessed a flood of boxing champions, which continues to this day (Rosenthal).

Mexico vs. Puerto Rico: The Rivalry

Puerto Rico and Mexico are both well-known for the proud fighting/boxing traditions they uphold, as well as their violent historic rivalry. Both nations have produced a number of illustrious boxers and world boxing champions (McRae).

Puerto Rico and Mexico's boxing rivalry cannot be traced back to any specific origin. However, an opportune Gomez-Sanchez fight flier could have been its starting point. This flier was with regard to the historic 1981 fight between Puerto Rican Wilfredo Gomez and Mexican Salvador Sanchez, at Las Vegas' Caesars' Palace. Don King, promoter of the event, dubbed it "The Battle of the Little Giants." To a certain extent, one may deem this flier an effort on King's part to find the next big name in boxing after Muhammad Ali, who was fading rapidly, since Larry Holmes proved he wasn't the next Ali. Further, Sugar Ray Leonard clearly indicated he didn't want anything to do with Don King. Therefore, King turned his focus on lightweight boxing rings, dominated for years by Latino boxers. WBC featherweight titleholder Sanchez was Mexico's household name in boxing. Puerto Rican Gomez, a junior featherweight WBC titleholder was a bigger name in his home country. Thus, King decided to roll his dice on these and won -- the bout between Gomez and Sanchez ought to be regarded as the beginning of this entire Puerto Rican-Mexican rivalry. This conflict, of late, has cooled down to mere predictable talk. Commentators on TV become misty-eyed when discussing "national pride" as well as the grand Puerto Rican-Mexican fighting tradition. Still, there are some who suggest that this rivalry isn't as great as one envisages (Stradley).

According to a Puerto Rican assistant professor working at Illinois University, Dr. Antonio Sotomayor, rivalries are… [END OF PREVIEW]

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